Planning Application SCC/0039/19W Lime Kiln Farm Reydon (NOT Wangford) Suffolk IP18
The curious case of Suffolk County Council's addiction to quarrying in the AONB and its failure to protect the AONB at Reydon
"The best plan is to profit by the folly of others" Pliny
Cemex and its predecessors have been quarrying at Wangford since the 1950s. The geology is such that there is very little topsoil over a high concentration of gravel, with the balance sand and little silt. Cemex have declined to tell us how profitable the existing quarry actually is, claiming that this is both commercially sensitive and not relevant to the planning application. (Note 1)
We disagree. A crucial part of Cemex's case for continuing to quarry in the AONB is that the quarry is a significant contributor to the local economy (a key test of para 172 of the NPPF when considering major developments in AONBs). They cite the 4 jobs at the quarry and indirect employment, business rates and other taxes
"The site also makes a significant taxation contribution via income tax, business rates, aggregates tax, fuel duty, road fund licence and regulatory fees. Were the quarry to close, this income stream would be lost." (Note 2)
Not much of this reaches the local economy but rather goes to central or county coffers.
Cemex also suggest that a proportion of the £1.5m proposed capital investment will be spent locally. When asked about how much might reach Wangford and Reydon the response is "The Company's definition of local is wider than the two Parishes." (Note 3)
The benefits to the local economy over the last 70 years of quarrying have been, and will continue to be negligible. Cemex's arguments that the quarry is a key part of the local economy are specious. Local demand can easily be supplied from other smaller quarries. They should not carry any weight in the assessment of whether the proposal should be permitted in the AONB. Rather the impact on tourism, a genuinely key industry in the area, should be considered.
So why are Cemex so keen on the Lime Kiln site? In the absence of information from Cemex we have made our own calculations based on the date in the latest application. Cemex are selling aggregate at £32/tonne to local buyers who collect from the site. On this ex-quarry sale price, and making reasonable assumptions on operating and restoration costs as well as the royalty paid to the local farmer (£180,000 per annum?), we believe that Cemex would be making £1.3m of profit per annum over the 10 year life of the Lime Kiln site (Note 4).
Cemex may argue that they sell to other customers at prices below £32/tonne - if this is true then not only are locals not benefitting but we are being screwed! Even the Latitude Festival gives residents a discount. But multinational Cemex, the ultimate hard rock group, is too greedy to care.
The final mystery is why Suffolk County Council - who only benefit to the tune of £31,000 in business rates, are so keen to see this go through.
Cemex has been allowed to profit at the expense of the local community, and all others who enjoy this corner of the AONB, for too long. There is not even a suggestion of offering any local benefit to as part of this application - we must just be grateful that they are continuing to gobble up our AONB. AEE at least double glazed Reydon village hall in return for covering 10 hectares with solar panels for 25 years.
We should call time on commercial exploitation of our AONB now.
14th June, 2019
1. Cemex Planning application, full submission page 331
2. Ditto page 31
3. Ditto page 331
4. We would be happy to share our assumptions and be corrected if Cemex is willing to disclose the true numbers.